Motorjesus – Hellbreaker

Hellbreaker Album Cover Art

Motorjesus – Hellbreaker
AFM Records
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 44:32
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Motorjesus have been at this a long time, coming from the Lemmy school of ‘down to earth roll up the sleeves and get on with it’ corner of Rock ’n’ Roll. They date back to the early 1990’s, having changed their names from the slightly less commercially acceptable The Shitheadz and have been producing albums under the Motorjesus moniker since 2004. This is album number six for the German five piece and follows the well-trodden path of high-octane German Rock ’n’ Roll wrapped up in a colourful mascot-emblazoned cover. That long experience is positively tangible, but at the same time it’s wrapped up in a really fresh and crisply energetic delivery of the calibre newer bands often exude.

This is a band who know exactly what they need to deliver and who seem to have no problem cranking out the tunes on demand. The vocal delivery is very gruff and gutsy, but so full of energy and enthusiasm from Chris “Howling” Birx with lyrics that follow the formula of driving music meets fantasy, perhaps summed up best by the nod to Judge Dredd and more specifically his gun, both named ‘Lawgiver’ which alongside pure road music like ‘Drive Through Fire’ and the absolutely belting ‘Car Wars’ is road music at its best and will go down a treat at a bike rally. It’s Rock ’n’ Roll, so I wasn’t expecting complex technical instrumental interplay – this is all about living fast and delivering the goods and I can foresee each and every one of these songs working well in a sweaty club somewhere (assuming there are any left when this fucking virus has been kicked into touch). That said, it may not be overtly technical, but that does not mean that there is some seriously skilful musicianship at work here as these boys can play fast, melodic and heavy as fuck all in one go – with enough boogie in the rhythms and beats to keep feet tapping and heads nodding. They are also running in a new guitarist in Patrick Wassenburg who seems to have subtly changed their sounds in favour of the more Metal tropes of blistering solo work to go with that crunch rhythm based delivery and the opportunity for a bit of harmonised playing. And pretty good with it he is too, so the end result is a Metal tinged R’n’R album that really is going to appeal broadly.

From what I can gather, this album isn’t doing anything conceptually, tonally or lyrically that they haven’t done before but, if like me, you are not familiar with the back catalogue, then with eleven fast and furious, well-delivered tracks to get you going this is an excellent place to start. And this does not sound like a band who’ve been at it forever with a huge back catalogue. This is new, fresh and positively full of energy. Spot on.

‘Firebreather’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Drive Through Fire
02. Battlezone
03. Hellbreaker
04. Beyond The Grave
05. Dead Rising
06. Car Wars
07. Firebreather
08. Lawgiver
09. Black Hole Overload
10. Back To The Bullet
11. The Outrun

LINE-UP:
Chris “Howling” Birx – Vocals
Andy Peters – Guitars
Patrick Wassenberg – Guitars
Dominik Kwasny – Bass
Adam Borosch – Drums

LINKS:

Motorjesus Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

U.D.O. – Live In Bulgaria 2020: Pandemic Survival Show

Live In Bulgaria 2020, Pandemic Survival Show Album Cover Art

U.D.O. – Live In Bulgaria 2020: Pandemic Survival Show
AFM Records
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 178:15
Review by Simon Black
5/10

Although Udo Dirkschneider has arguably been more successful outside of Accept with his U.D.O. project than he was in Accept (or certainly than Accept have been since he left them), I seem to have managed to largely miss out on his contribution to the Metal world (OK, I heard ‘Balls To The Wall’ back in the day, but it never did much for me). Which makes this quite an interesting experience to listen to, as it means I’m coming to this German Heavy Metal stalwart as if for the first time. The show was recorded last year in a socially distanced Roman amphitheatre environment in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and although the crowd size was clearly limited, that’s not slowing their enthusiasm down noticeably.

This is primarily about a visual release, with dual DVD/CD and Blu-Ray/CD formats being available alongside a strictly limited vinyl audio only pressing, which is why for those encountering this on audio streaming only the full two hours and eighteen minutes running time might seem a little daunting. Given that there’s been plenty of live material from the man in recent years it might be argued that this wasn’t necessary, but then the environment is rather visually special if you go for that format and his fans tend to be very loyal and therefore more than happy to shell out for it.

It’s straight ahead traditional Metal and so it should be, with a fair number of Accept tracks alongside the solo material just in case anyone has forgotten where he came from. The track choice is worth dwelling on for a moment as it’s got plenty of less obvious choices in there, which although this gives the release something to distinguish itself from other recent live offerings, does mean it’s not necessarily as engaging for the casual audience member. Not that this is pitched at anything other than the hardened core of his very loyal fan base.

There’s plenty of live energy here and that distinctive gravelly voice is still there but does sometime seem to struggle with the sustain and vibrato, but then he is nearly seventy (which is still probably older than the combined ages of everyone else in the band). Dirkschneider also manages to keep the crowd well engaged, interacting well and encouraging huge amounts of enthusiasm (although to be fair at this point in 2020 I would have started a circle pit at my kids’ school play if they had been allowed to hold it). With twenty-five tracks you also get value for money, but I forgive anyone if they chose to skip the drum or bass solo segments, as quite frankly they’re one part of the 80’s best left in the past.

As for the musical performance, the band are tight enough, and work well together, but are very much in the background of the mix to the vocals. There’s a lot of energy coming off of the band, but unfortunately it’s let down by the fact that his voice although maintaining that distinctive timbre just doesn’t have the strength and power it had in the past. Consequently with much of the music being in a key he has a chance of hitting, that up tempo energy of the older material just doesn’t quite materialise.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Tongue Reaper
02. Make The Move
03. Midnight Mover
04. Wrong Side Of Midnight
05. Metal Machine
06. Independence Day
07. Rose In The Desert
08. Vendetta
09. Rising High
10. Prologue: The Great Unknown
11. In The Darkness
12. I Give As Good As I Get
13. Princess Of The Dawn
14. Timebomb
15. Drum Solo
16. Bass Solo
17. Hungry And Angry
18. One Heart One Soul
19. Man And Machine
20. Animal House
21. They Want War
22. Metal Heart
23. Fast As Shark
24. Balls To The Wall
25. Outro (Stillness Of Time)

LINE-UP:
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Andrey Smirnov – Guitar
Sven Dirkschneider – Drums
Fabian Dee Dammers – Guitar
Tilen Hudrap – Bass

LINKS:

U.D.O. Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Nightmare – Aeternam

Aeternam Cover Art

Nightmare – Aeternam
AFM Records
Release Date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 48:51
Review by Mark Pritchard
8/10

Recently, for at least the last 2 weeks, while the weather has been trying to decide whether it wants to rain or to snow (normal for the UK), and through some really tough days missing loved ones that are no longer with us, I’ve been taking the opportunity to listen to French Heavy/Power Metal band Nightmare, and their most recent album “Aeternam”! While outside the days may be gloomy, this has really made the sun shine for me. Let me take a moment of your time to tell you about them, and their brilliant new release.

Nightmare were originally founded all the way back in 1979, and have had an amazing journey so far, which has included being the opening band for Def Leppard back in 1993, playing a few of the biggest metal festivals such as Wacken and Hellfest, as well as supporting the likes of Sabaton, Saxon, Grave Digger, and Blind Guardian, which can definitely not be understated! Since being founded, Nightmare have released, no less than 10 studio albums, a live album, “Live Deliverance”, in 2000, and a compilation album in the shape of “Travel In The Spheres Of Time” in 2006. Now we arrive at their 11th studio album “Aeternam”!

From the very first listen, one thing that has struck me is the intensity of the album. Both the instrumentals, and the clear, but also intense vocals of new singer Marianne “Madie” Dien, make “Aeternam” an album that stands out from the crowd. To be able to keep adapting with the times and to still bring that same fierce, in your face music, with so many releases, really shows the band’s experience, and it hits the mark! At times, especially with some of the solos that appear on “Aeternam” I can’t help but join in on air guitar! Then there are times where I can sit back with my headphones on, just listening away, enjoying a nice cup of tea, just letting the music wash over me.

After listening to “Aeternam” as much as I have, picking one song that stands out more than the rest isn’t the easiest thing to do, as every track is brilliant for their own reasons. But if I had to pick it would be ‘Crystal Lake’. This amazing song, with its soothing/haunting instrumental with calm vocals to start, makes me take complete notice straight away. Then, as the track progresses it builds in intensity perfectly. It’s such a great track.

This album is definitely one that will feature on my playlist for some time to come, and I recommend everyone give it a listen, especially those of you that love proper Heavy/Power Metal. Nightmare really should be a lot bigger than they are!

‘Divine Nemesis’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Temple Of Acheron
02. Divine Nemesis
03. The Passenger
04. Downfall Of A Tyrant
05. Crystal Lake
06. Lights On
07. Aeternam
08. Under The Ice
09. Black September
10. Anneliese

LINE-UP:
Madie – Vocals.
Yves Campion – Bass & Vocals.
Franck Milleliri – Guitar.
Matt Asselberghs – Guitar & Vocals.
Niels Quiais – Drums.

LINKS:

Nightmare Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Escape Of The Phoenix Album Cover Art

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix
AFM Records
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 58:43
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Swedish progressive metallers, Evergrey, are somewhat of a mainstay within the metal world, and you’re always guaranteed top quality musicality and production with their studio albums. The upcoming 12th studio album, “Escape Of The Phoenix”, is certainly no exception to this. But what I will say is that I didn’t reach this conclusion straight away. This is one of those albums that grows on you, and I’m glad that I gave it more of a chance, and more listen throughs, than I sometimes do when writing reviews.

In keeping with Evergrey’s unique style – heavy, melancholic, and progressive – this album has given Tom Englund more freedom to write hugely thought-provoking lyrics, on any subject (the previous three albums had to reign that in a little because they were a concept trilogy). And let me tell you that he has completely achieved what he set out to, and then some. Lyrically, this album doesn’t just hit you in the feels, it tears at them, rips them out, rubs them in your face, then stuffs them back in again. One such example of this is the beautifully sorrowful, ‘Where August Mourns’. The first section of the chorus speaks so much… “If I’m just aching this can’t go on, I came from chasing dreams to feel alone, There must be changes, miss to feel strong, I really need life to touch me…” If you’re having a wobble, lyrics like these can take you one of two ways, but they’re damn cathartic that’s for sure.

But that’s really the case with the whole album, both lyrically and musically. It’s the pleasure/pain – the juxtaposition of beauty and turmoil, living and existing, and the highs and lows of emotions, which Evergrey have a masterful way of capturing. And this is why it took me a few listens to really connect. It’s too deep to just listen to without really concentrating on it.

We get an extra special treat on track 5 ‘The Beholder’ because not only does it encompass the musical and lyrical mastery that is this album, but it has a guest performance from Dream Theater vocalist, James LaBrie, who Joins Tom for a superb duet. Tom has always cited Dream Theater as one of his big influences, so I can imagine that for him this would have been an epic experience, and it has created another amazing song.

This is one of the highlights of the album for me, along with ‘Stories’, ‘In Absence Of Sun’, and ‘You From You’, for their tenderness, and expansiveness; and ‘Forever Outside’ and ‘Escape Of The Phoenix’ for their thumping, punchy riffs, and almost industrial undertones.

Yup, I’m an emotional old sausage, and the more I listen to this album, the more it draws me in. It’s huge, it’s intricate, it’s as close as anyone will get to perfection production wise, and musically it’s interesting and challenging, as well as exceptionally talented. It started as a 6/10, but has crept up my scale with each listen, and could well end up being one of my releases of the year. I feel a little foolish to have even made a quick judgement of it to begin with. If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the garage flogging myself!

‘The Beholder’ feat. James LaBrie (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Forever Outsider
02. Where August Mourn
03. Stories
04. A Dandelion Cipher
05. The Beholder (feat. James LaBrie)
06. In The Absence Of Sun
07. Eternal Nocturnal
08. Escape Of The Phoenix
09. You From You
10. Leaden Saints
11. Run

LINE-UP:
Tom S. Englund – Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Danhage – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rikard Zander – Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Jonas Ekdahl – Drums
Johan Niemann – Bass, Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Evergrey Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Silent Skies – Satellites

Silent Skies – Satellites
AFM Records
Release Date: 11/12/2020
Running Time: 55:42
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

2020…What a weird old year. And as it draws to a close you can’t help but look back with melancholy reflection upon the events of the last 12 months. Well, I can’t anyway. And “Satellites”, the new album from Silent Skies, provides a very fitting soundtrack to accompany my thoughts.

Silent Skies is a collaboration between Tom Englund, the dynamic front man of Swedish progressive band, Evergrey, and Vikram Shankar, a classically trained pianist, who grew up drawing heavy influence from Evergrey. Their journey together started when Tom saw Vikram’s piano interpretation of Evergrey’s ‘Distance’, on YouTube, and was intrigued by the musicality he displayed. They met up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The album is centred around Tom Englund’s powerful, but tender vocals, alongside Vikram’s stunningly cinematic piano compositions, although it does have other instrumentation in some tracks. For me, there is nothing more tranquil than stripped back vocals and piano. Maybe I’m biased, being a vocalist and pianist, but the tones of piano and voice hold a deep innocence that just can’t be replicated any other way. It’s the type of sound that makes you hold your breath for fear of disturbing the players.

The album opens with ‘Horizons’. Starting with a piano introduction, the lamenting tune is joined by Tom Englund’s vocals, singing a simple melody, designed to compliment the piano line, rather than overpower it. I think this may be double layered, to give it a more 3-dimensional sound. The pair continue as the track builds, and gentle strings, and an African sounding drumbeat, are introduced in the background.

Track 2, ‘Endless’ begins much more vocal driven, with the piano sitting as an accompaniment. This changes however, to a cinematic instrumental section in the middle, complete with harmonized ‘aaaaah’s, and then develops an 80’s soft rock ballad feel, before returning to the lamenting piano we hear at the beginning of the album.

These two tracks pretty much set the tone for the album. It’s beautifully understated throughout, but also stark, as the instrumentation leaves nowhere for the players to hide. This makes it a very honest and open work, which pleases me a lot. There’s no need for fancy new-fangled ideas. Just some serious musicality from both Englund and Shankar.

Along with nine original compositions, we also get treated to a hugely different arrangement of the Eurythmics’ 80s classic, ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’. The original is truly an iconic song, but this arrangement takes it to a whole new world.

Following that is, my favourite track on the album, ‘Walls’. It Shows off both Tom’s vocal skills, and Vikram’s delicate piano, beautifully, and it grows and swells throughout, with the addition of a lamenting Cello, and violin, and some seriously thunderous bowed double bass notes, that really reach into your soul. It comes full circle to finish, with all other sounds ebbing away, to leave just solitary piano notes and Tom’s vocals.

If you’re a fan of classical cinematic music, Tom Englund’s voice, or indeed just need an accompaniment to melancholic reflections, then I can thoroughly recommend this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Horizons (Extended Version)
02. Endless
03. Dreams
04. Us
05. Solitude
06. Oceans
07. Here Comes The Rain Again
08. Walls
09. Distance
10. 1999

LINE-UP:
Tom Englund – Vocals
Vikram Shankar – Piano

LINKS:


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Theatre Of Tragedy – Musique (20th Anniversary Edition)

Theatre Of Tragedy – Musique (20th Anniversary Edition)
AFM Records
Release Date: 04/12/2020
Running Time: 88:44
Review by Rick Eaglestone
9/10

20 Years after its initial release “Musique” has returned – this time, its first on vinyl, also brings with it a multitude of bonus and unreleased tracks.

There must have been something in the water around the late 90’s and early 00’s as it seemed to be a fashion for bands to deviate from their roots and step in another direction. Now, with some bands, it took me a while to accept this but with Theatre Of Tragedy it was instantaneous and a really nice change from the symphonic sound that was quickly becoming overdone and saturated

It may be sacrilegious to feel this way but opening track ‘Machine’ is still my all-time favourite track, which after two decades may now be accepted, as at the time, I received gasps of horror and disgust from friends when revealing this.

Tracks like ‘City Of Light’, and especially ‘Fragment’, still give me goosebumps. There is no denying just how hypnotic Liv Kristine’s vocals are…even now!

Title track ‘Musique’s electronica sound hasn’t dated, as the melodies that accompany it strike a great balance. This is also true of the following track ‘Commute’ The lyrical content takes a more futuristic approach with ‘Radio’ and as previously mentioned Liv Kristine’s vocal shine through but, on this occasion, more so Raymond I Rohonyi’s as well as the hypnotic riff running throughout.

First single to be released ‘Image’ weaves into the pulsating song about street fighting ‘Crash/Concrete’, which has a little slice of harsh electro, so the slower ‘Retrospect’, which follows, is a welcome change of pace.

The intro to ‘Reverie’ still reminds me of a Commodore 64 game loading but, in fairness, the sound is in keeping with the start of the millennium so, once you get past that, you should enjoy the track. ‘Space Age’ is appropriately named, but purely instrumental. Originally, at this point, the album contained the track ‘The New Man’ but with this version it’s the French version of ‘Image’

This 20th Anniversary Edition does contain ‘The New Man’ further on, as well as the unreleased ‘Quirk’, which has a great chorus and blends in well with both the remastered tracks, by Jacob Hansen, and alternative versions included. A final note is that both formats (CD and Vinyl) have the same tracklist, so there is no need to have to buy both editions.

It’s nice to play an album that you haven’t heard in a few years and still feel the same way about it! This has been remastered well and from a personal stance it’s something that I will be re-purchasing on the newer format in the near future.

TRACKLISTING:

CD1
01. Machine
02. City Of Light
03. Fragment
04. Musique
05. Commute
06. Radio
07. Image
08. Crash/Concrete
09. Retrospect
10. Reverie
11. Space Age
12. Image (French Version)

CD2
13. Fragment
14. Machine
15. City Of Light
16. Reverie
17. Radio
18. Commute
19. Retrospect
20. Quirk
21. Crash/Concrete
22. The New Man

LINE-UP:
Raymond I. Rohonyi – Vocals
Liv Kristine – Vocals
Frank Claussen – Guitars
Lorentz Aspen – Keyboards
Hein Frode Hansen – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Onslaught – Generation Antichrist

Onslaught – Generation Antichrist
AFM Records
Release Date: 07/08/2020
Running Time: 37:53
Review by Victor Augusto
9/10

I have to confess that writing review introductions is always a kind of nightmare for me. I always try to flee from that usual boring writing that often repeats what we’ve already read on band releases. Therefore, I use the technique of telling some kind of history. Most of the time, it’s related to the band, but not always (again boss, don’t fire me)! But it’s impossible to not tell a true history when Onslaught is the subject. My relationship with Onslaught began on November 17th, 2009. On this day, I saw Onslaught playing in Brasília (the capital of Brazil), the city where I live. Ok, it wasn’t the greatest production and the venue wasn’t as big as the band deserved. But, despite all the issues (that is so typical of Brazilian concert producers), what I saw that day was an insane band on stage! It didn’t matter that it was 2am on a Tuesday or that a lot of chaos happened in a small pub. Onslaught played as if they were in front of a huge festival crowd.

Ok, now let me switch from fan mode to reviewer mode and talk about what matters – “Generation Antichrist”, the new Onslaught album. It’s finally here, after 7 years of non-stop touring since the last one, and with important line-up changes, especially the change of long-time singer Sy Keeler, to David Garnett (also Bull-Riff Stampede). I was full of expectation about what this album would sound like. After listening to the short opening song ‘Rise To Power’, which is full of good melodies and a very intense atmosphere, ‘Strike Fast Strike Hard’ suddenly hits my ears!! And what can I say about it? RIIIIFFFF! Yes, Riff! This was the first word I screamed after listening to this incredible track. What a killer song. Powerful riff and heavy as anything. The purest Onslaught putting their soul and making me bang my head like a teenager hearing Heavy Metal for the first time ever. Make riff, not war. Ok, no more fan mode, I promise 😊.

Luckily, ‘Bow Down To The Clowns’ keeps this sensation going, like I was at a live concert with them playing song after song without taking a breath. The sound is furious! It’s like Nige Rocket is conducting his troop as a lead pilot from a fighter squad, flying supersonic, ready to explode the universe! The riffs and solos, together with his “partner in crime” Wayne Dorman are just incredible. I noticed a couple of differences from their previous sound though. James Perry has a strong groove and hits his kit hard. He also uses good double bass passages to flee from the usual Thrash rhythm drumbeats.

Jeff Williams, who has been playing in the band since their return in 2006, contributes to this groove, too. His highlight is in the last song, ‘A Perfect Day To Die’, with an insane bass intro. This song was previously released last year, with Sy on vocals, and it is perfect to illustrate the difference between both singers. Personally, I felt that David Garnett chose to keep the band’s spirit similar to Sy. Maybe the biggest difference is how fast he can speak in some parts, which offers a good dynamic for vocal interpretations, as you can hear in ‘Religiousuicide’. Actually, everything is fast in this song and shows a different side of Onslaught.

Still talking about the album, the band offers songs with more cadence, like the title song ‘Generation Antichrist’, which also has a strong chorus. ‘Empires Fall’ follows the same idea. Don’t expect anything without heaviness on this album either!

Even though the album’s title could suggest an antichrist theme, I felt that the lyrics are more critical towards how humans use religion to gain power and destroy lives, using religious beliefs to manipulate things. An issue that has been cursing humanity for a long time and it is still a trend and topic full of barbarism.

It feels weird talking about Onslaught, considering I live in a hugely different country to them. But I think they’re a legendary band, not only in England, but worldwide. I also feel like Onslaught has nothing more to prove. No matter what turbulence they live in, they will always offer a killer album. How could I not love it? If you don’t agree, please listen to “Generation Antichrist”. It proves everything I am saying.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rise To Power
02. Strike Fast Strike Hard
03. Bow Down To The Clowns
04. Generation Antichrist
05. All Seeing Eye
06. Addicted To The Smell Of Death
07. Empires Fall
08. Religiousuicide
09. A Perfect Day To Die (2020 version)

LINE-UP:
Dave Garnett – Vocals
Nige Rockett – Guitar
Wayne Dorman – Guitar
Jeff Williams – Bass
James Perry – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Firewind – Firewind

Firewind – Firewind
AFM Records
Release Date: 15/05/2020
Running time: 47:27
Review by Alun Jones
7.5/10

We all make mistakes. Some of us blunder all the time, and the consequence of those slip-ups can be catastrophic. And some of us don’t like to admit when we’re wrong.

Confession time: I volunteered to review this Firewind album because I got them mixed up with another band with “fire” in the name (or possibly a couple). I was slightly mortified when I realised that this band weren’t what I was expecting: none of the sludgy comfort blanket that I usually wrap my ears in.

(I did wonder why Alun picked this but as Firewind are superb and contain a bona fide guitar god in Gus G then I decided not to mention it – Rick-Ed)

Firewind are – Zeus help me – a melodic, power metal band. Not a corner of metal that I’m particularly well versed in, or a fan of. I fucking hate Helloween, for a start. And Queensrÿche. And fucking Europe. This was going to be a challenge.

Yet your old pal Al is nothing if not a trooper. They’re (partially) Greek, which intrigued me being a huge fan of the country. I plunged into this assignment with an open mind – and do you know what? This isn’t bad at all. In fact, I quite enjoyed it.

Opening track ‘Welcome To The Empire’ begins with some fine acoustic guitar before erupting into a big, bombastic rock monster. It is, like most of the album, totally over the top – but also loads of fist pumping fun. This ain’t pop music. It’s fast and powerful (see ‘Devour’), and while not quite as brutal as my usual preferences, packs a mighty wallop.

The musicianship is exemplary. Guitar genius Gus G has plenty of flair, but can throw out some crushing, crunchy riffs when required: ‘Rising Fire’ and ‘Space Cowboy’ being  two great examples. Fast, flashy solos ain’t my scene, but there’s plenty of chugging metal to keep me interested.

The rhythm section – Petros Christo (bass) and Jo Nunez (drums) go beyond textbook and play excellently throughout the album. Give ‘Orbitual Sunrise’ and ‘Overdrive’ a go for evidence…

Vocals provided by new singer Herbie Langhans are dramatic, in a typically Teutonic fashion. This guy is straight out of a Wagnerian epic; despite being somewhat more operatic than I’m used to, he can certainly belt it out. On every single song.

Sorry to disappoint any readers who thought they might actually read a less than positive review from yours truly. Firewind isn’t my usual cup of absinthe with opium chaser, but I found it very easy to appreciate. This album is well played, well written, well produced and delivered with some love and pride – all of which manages to steer this album away from trite cliché.

Metal wearing its heart on its sleeve and with a refreshing honesty, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate Firewind. If I can dig it, then fans of this genre will love it.

(Rick again! Alun gets bonus points for actually really liking this, after all, it is a great album but I’m going to have to talk to him about his dislike of Helloween and Queensrÿche…tut tut Mr. Jones) 😊

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome To The Empire
02. Devour
03. Rising Fire
04. Break Away
05. Orbitual Sunrise
06. Longing To Know You
07. Perfect Stranger
08. Overdrive
09. All My Life
10. Space Cowboy
11. Kill The Pain

LINE-UP:
Gus G – Guitar
Herbie Langhans – Vocals
Petro Christo – Bass
Jo Nunez – Drums

LINKS:
www.firewind.gr/
www.facebook.com/firewindofficial
www.twitter.com/firewindmusic
www.instagram.com/firewindofficial/
www.youtube.com/firetv
www.afm-records.de/en/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Anvil – Legal At Last

Anvil – Legal At Last
AFM Records
Released:14/02/2020
Running Time: 50:31
Review by Dark Juan
4/10

Greetings and salutations from a dark and gloomy Dark Juan Terrace, my dear followers of the Left-Hand Path. As I am staring through the mullioned and open window from my meditation chamber (where there is a disturbing and frankly boring lack of nubile young virgins with innocent eyes and a faith in the False Lord that has just got to be libertined out of them) I am assailed by the smell of petrichor and there appears to be calm before a storm. The clouds are heavy, black and pendulous and all the birds have fucked right off somewhere. My glorious and vicious pack of hellhounds are all asleep on my bed. There’s also no cheese or alcohol in the house and the police are starting to take a dim view of my increasingly desperate excuses for being outside – Apparently telling them you are hunting for virgins is not an acceptable excuse in West Yorkshire, nor is claiming you have been living in the woods for twenty years and have chosen that moment to re-enter civilisation. Apparently, my clothes were too fresh smelling and well-pressed for that one to work…

So, to business. I’m listening to venerable Canadian metal stalwarts Anvil’s latest release, “Legal At Last”. It appears that they have a blueprint and they are not deviating from it one fucking jot. Experimentation is not a word in the Anvil dictionary. What we have here is a heavy metal album that literally has been transported through time from 1984. We have gang backing vocals, big chant-a-long choruses, an utterly derivative production where everything is snare drums to the fore, songs about weed, drinking, surveillance and how great Anvil are. Unfortunately, Anvil aren’t that great, and it has always been a mystery to this hellpriest as to why Anvil have enjoyed such a long career, when they have basically released the same album for the last twenty years. This is so utterly derivative it is sucking the life out of me. When you have other bands like Cloven Hoof (who are of a similar vintage) STILL managing to make traditional metal sound fresh and fun, it makes Anvil almost become a less amusing version of Spinal Tap – a band with steadily decreasing relevance clinging to past glories, helped with an ageing fanbase who all still wear their original 1982 tour shirts and look with disdain at the neophyte metaller who has just discovered the One True Path and malign them cruelly for not liking “the classic stuff”. Well, fuck you, OLD GUYS! This record might have been a good release in 1985, but now it is just tawdry, man.

Opener and title track “Legal At Last” is basically a paean to how great Anvil are. Yes, there is a punchy staggered backing vocal but I have to be honest here, Lips’ voice is not to my taste and this self-aggrandising bullshit got the teenaged Dark Juan’s back up so much that glam rock is still a no-go area because it would only take one phosphor bomb and you could wipe out a room full of primped pussies just from the fumes of the hairspray igniting. Second track “Nabbed In Nebraska” is equally boneheaded and has just insulted my intelligence so much I’ve just ordered a conventional bombing strike on Toronto to revenge myself upon the place for even giving us Anvil in the first place. “Smoking weed ain’t no crime” howls Lips. Clearly it fucking was in Nebraska, you numpty. Also, smoking weed ain’t big or clever. It generally makes you a combination of sleepy, talkative, food obsessed and very bloody annoying. And smelly. Very very fucking smelly. Track three on this apparently never-ending record is “Chemtrails”. Oh dear. Oh dear. Hackneyed and derivative and clearly Anvil have no idea of airspeed friction and contrails. Take it from me, dear friends and acolytes, I worked on aircraft at Manchester Airport and there are NO FUCKING NOZZLES FOR DUMPING CHEMICALS ON CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT!!!! Or I would say that, because I am one of them, you will all immediately howl… Grow the fuck up.

And so it continues – one of the few redeeming qualities of this record is that it does at least have a positive environmental message that is timely in the song “Plastic In Paradise”, but then they also have a song called “Glass House” about surveillance of the world populace, which is an interesting subject but ruined by some truly banal lyrics. “There is no place to hide, nowhere to go inside,” “There is no lock, there is no key, when you lose your privacy,” and the ABSOLUTE winner (and cheerfully grammatically incorrect,) “Me and you, living in a zoo.” Musically, Anvil still come across as a more muscular Twisted Sister with added metal attitude, but everything about the record is one massive fucking cliché, man. Overpowering drums? Check. Massively overproduced guitar sound, multitracked to fuck because there is only one guitar player? Check. Utterly faceless bass robot? Check. Gang vocal? Check. Battering the floor tom a lot? Check. Ham-fisted attempts at political commentary? Fucking check, check and check again. There is simply no fucking excuse, when metal is undergoing a renaissance of sorts currently, to release such dated and unoriginal music, especially when contemporaries are making good albums again.

Metal has moved on from this. At best, this record is a curiosity showing just how stagnant metal can be without new blood to move it along. It has some good riffs, some good song structures but Ozzy Osbourne did all this considerably better on “The Ultimate Sin.”

In 1986.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System wants its intelligence quotient back. 4/10 for one of the most average records I have ever heard from “legends.” Bah. And indeed meh.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Legal At Last (I wish you weren’t.)
02. Nabbed In Nebraska (Don’t take controlled substances there, then!)
03. Chemtrails (Load of old pony, bach.)
04. Gasoline (More to worry about here than fucking chemtrails.)
05. I’m Alive (Clearly the Nebraska State Police were feeling charitable.)
06. Talking To The Wall (Is this while Accept have their Balls To The Wall? That’s a bit worrying.)
07. Glass House (Good concept, utterly shit lyrics.)
08. Plastic In Paradise (Timely and important. No, not taking the piss at this point.)
09. Bottom Line (Of your wife’s colossal pants?)
10. Food For The Vultures (An excellent metaphor for this album.)
11. Said And Done (Not quite yet, but hope springs eternal.)
12. No Time (Bonus Track – I read bonus track as a song that didn’t make the actual choice of songs for the album, but we will bung it on anyway.)

LINE-UP:
Steve “Lips” Kudlow – Vocals/ guitar
Robb Reiner – Drums
Chris Robertson – Bass

LINKS: (2 3 4 – lol) – (This is a terrible joke, even for Dark Juan’s standards – Rick)
www.facebook.com/anvilmetal/
www.twitter.com/AnvilMetal666
www.instagram.com/anvil.metal/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

DeadRisen – DeadRisen

DeadRisen – DeadRisen
AFM Records
Release Date: 13/03/2020
Running Time: 47:06
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9/10

Personally, the first track on DeadRisen’s debut album ‘Risen Death AD’, which is just over one minute long, had me going “hmmm okay, is this the opening theme for a new “Mummy” film soundtrack, and my interest was immediately piqued…then, first track proper ‘Prophecy’ kicks in with the vengeance of a steel toe cap to the shin. Talk about going from one end of a scale to the other.

DeadRisen is the brainchild of guitar maestro Rod Rivera (Rivera/Bomma) and bass wizard Mike LePond (Symphony X) and wow, am I glad they got their heads together because this album blows away any winter cobwebs that may still be lurking.

As well as Rod and Mike the band consists of Will Shaw (Heir Apparent) on vocals, Tony Stehl (Livesay) on keyboards and last, but definitely not least, Dan Prestup (Midnight Eternal) on drums. Rod, who has many years of performing and recording behind him, is the son of a flamenco guitarist and you can hear this in his style of playing, I think it comes to the fore most in ‘The Maker’ which has a Latin/Flamenco feel and a unique sound that gives it a real edge. Mike, who has played on some of the best Heavy Metal albums ever, is so fluent, he sounds like a second guitarist!

DeadRisen are like a metal recipe combining some new, some old, some power, a pinch of slow and twist of crazy, all mixed and baked into a brilliant album The energy that comes through is breath taking but then next track ‘Reach For The Sun’ has you chilling out to a much slower tune that slowly builds to a mammoth climax. These guys definitely want to keep your interest throughout!

The vocals from Shaw have a range that would make most guys eyes water yet the power and clarity he provides makes this whole album stand out. In fact his sound and some of his phrasing reminds me of a mix between Graham Bonnet and Russell Allen, Stehl’s keyboards are a wonderful addition to the mix and with the thunderous and precise drumming of Prestup, these five guys gel in such a way that can only come from many years of experience! “DeadRisen”, the album, has more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Never before have I heard an album that goes from flamenco to metal to thrash all within one track. Some of the tracks are dark and deep, others light and fast. The astonishing guitar riffs and solos from Rivera almost had me holding my breath. It’s okay though as he gives you a rest to draw breath before you turn blue!

One thing that comes across with DeadRisen is not just the amount of experience they possess but it sounds like that they just love making music and enjoying what they do and that is giving us truly epic tunes such as ‘Chains Of Time’ and ‘But You’, fast, furious and with a pitch on the vocals that almost make your ears bleed, in a good way. This is an album that you certainly won’t get bored of listening too, the variety in each track is genius but they seamlessly blend everything like they have been playing together for years and no way does this sound like a debut album.

With Heavy Metal approaching its 50th Birthday, DeadRisen have rightfully taken their place on the icing of the cake and I hope there are many more tracks to come from them. Final track on the album is a sumptuous cover of Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and proves the point that you never know what’s coming next! If you are a fan of incredible Progressive Power Metal with a nod to bands like Alcatrazz, Rainbow, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep then hold on to your seat and your beer because this is sublime!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Risen Death AD
02. Prophecy
03. Destiny
04. The Maker
05. Reach for The Sky
06. Visions
07. Chains of Time
08. Fear and Fury
09. Buy You
10. For Whom The Bell Tolls (Metallica Cover)

LINE-UP:
Will Shaw – Vocals
Rod Rivers – Guitars
Mike LePond – Bass
Tony Stahl – Keyboards
Dan Prestup – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/deadrisenband/
www.instagram.com/deadrisenband/
www.open.spotify.com/album/5vMUmOccMKjkhjtIteaDKX
www.youtube.com/channel/UCTKQlZbfT32dfyQ-GlbLwGg

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.